Behrouz Hariri, co-founder
Taking a human-centred approach to design for our behaviours
The world’s first non-invasive snoring solution
In 2013, Behrouz Hariri was working with an Ideo.org team to solve a seemingly simple problem faced by a community in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of the two water fountains nearby, the one closest to the village had a much higher contamination rate compared to one 15 minutes away. Even knowing this, many people continued to use the contaminated one. It was a problem of convenience.
The 15-minute walk outside of the village introduced certain dangers, such as the potential for being mugged, swaying people’s decision-making. “That convenience factor has nothing to do with the safety of the water, but it still dictates behaviours,” Hariri explains. “It’s the same with Nora. It has less to do with how clever your solution is, and more with the emotional weight of receiving this device.”
Nora, Hariri’s current endeavour, is a non-invasive smart device used to stop people from snoring. Initially developed by his father, Ali, Nora looks like a palm-sized white pebble, which sits on your bedside and listens to the room to detect the early signs of snoring. As soon as it hears the beginnings of those rhythmic snorts, an inflatable pad under your pillow slowly lifts the head, allowing the airway to resume its normal state and causing snoring to fade. Since Nora launched on Kickstarter in October 2015, it has received upwards of $1 million in pre-orders.
From his work as a systems designer in more than eight countries, Hariri is bringing this behavioural focus to Nora. And being a potential user himself — yes, he admits to being a snorer — has its benefits. He explains, “I expect you to read the instruction manual at the end of the day in a dim space. Maybe you just remembered to set it up before bed when your partner has already fallen asleep. Priorities shift when you are tired; you become very protective of your sleep. If there is any confusion or annoyance, you won’t use it. When we design the manual, that night I’ll test it by reading it with only my bedside lamp on.”
The effect that you experience is not that there’s no snoring, it’s that you get up on good terms.
Self-testing has been invaluable, but early user tests revealed another fundamental takeaway: snoring is inherently a conflict between two people. “The effect that you experience with the product is not that there’s no snoring, it’s that you get up on good terms in the morning,” says Hariri. This is why all of Nora’s testimonials are from couples.
At the time of our interview, Hariri was focused on his Toronto team during the day and their Chinese manufacturer at night. You can be sure that the need for a good night’s sleep is not lost on him. “The priority now is hiring,” he says. Tip for applicants: being a snorer is a plus.
To find out more about Smart Nora, visit smartnora.com